No heads rolled when 73 precious lives were lost in Tezgam train inferno near Rahim Yar Khan last October. Even Prime Minister Imran Khan — who as opposition leader would never waste a second demanding resignation even on lapses and slipups — did not even seek an explanation from Sheikh Rasheed, the railways minister and his most trusted ally. It was as if nothing had happened at all. Even the reports that more than 100 accidents occurred in the year 2019 alone, making it one of the worst years for railways, were not enough for the Prime Minister or his cabinet to call Sheikh Rasheed’s performance into question. The Supreme Court, therefore, has had to fill the vacuum. The top court has taken the railways minister to task on not just the Tezgam tragedy but the overall pathetic state of the railways.
The three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, drew the attention of the federal minister towards his performance, pointing out that the platforms and railway tracks are not in order, freight trains are not operating properly, the entire department is politicised, and corruption is rampant. The court directed Rasheed to present a business plan within two weeks to uplift Pakistan Railways from its current “deplorable” condition, adding that if there was any deviation from the plan presented in court, action would be taken.
Even though it remains a debate whether or not the court action is an interference in the matters of the executive, perhaps this is only how Rasheed can be made to concentrate on his job rather than being involved in everything else — like making political prophecies, lashing out at the opposition, and suggesting solutions concerning other ministries and departments. Rasheed is indeed a seasoned politician and can be the best of the ministers — only if he realises his potential and focuses on his own job.